Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas

Edwin Forbes January 25, 1863

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and the peace for which we all dream during this wonderful season.

May we always remember those who came before us and their sacrifices that have given us the world in which we live.

God Bless.



The Gettysburg Casino No Vote - More Good News

While reading an article concerning the recent vote by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board against a casino near the Gettysburg Battlefield, I found the following encouraging statements.

"More should be known soon about the gaming board's rationale, because written opinions on the licensing decisions are due from the board in the coming weeks.

Crossroads then has 30 days to appeal to the state Supreme Court, but lead investor David LeVan said in a radio interview last week he has no plans to appeal."

Of course, they may yet change their minds but for now, this is good news.

Still more encouraging is how the Civil War community came together to save the battlefield from this serious threat. Elsewhere in the article it states, "With the battlefields nearby, opposition from local and national groups was vocal.

National preservation groups such as the Civil War Preservation Trust lined up against Crossroads, and just last week more than 100 Civil War historians signed a letter to the gaming board opposing the plan. They joined a local, grass-roots group named No Casino Gettysburg that fought the plan throughout the licensing process...'I think the (gaming) board listened to the community,' Gov. Ed Rendell said after the decision."

Good news indeed.



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Source: Chambersburg Public Opinion Online

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Thank You For Saving the Gettysburg Battlefield

I want to take a moment to offer my sincere heartfelt thanks to everyone who helped to save the Battlefield at Gettysburg. Yesterday, we all heard the fantastic news that the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has denied the application for a casino near the National Park's borders. I suspect that appeals will again raise the spector of a casino near America's hallowed ground but for now, the men who fought, bled, and died on those fields along with those who gratefully honor their memory can rest a little easier.

Thank you to everyone who wrote to the PA Gaming Control Board, testified at the hearings, posted their feelings online, and contacted their elected officials. You made this possible through each of your efforts and should feel justifiably proud. For what it is worth, whenever I walk the sacred fields at Gettysburg, I will recall my sense of gratitude for each of your efforts and unflinching support.

Thank you.



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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Tomorrow's Final Vote on the Gettysburg Casino

Tomorrow, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) will vote to award the remaining Pennsylvania slots licenses throughout the Keystone State. Despite overwhelming local and national objections to this proposal, the PGCB still may approve building a casino so close to the battlefield that no question remains of the damage it will cause. A casino so near the endangered ground of the Gettysburg Battlefield would seriously threaten the ability to protect and preserve one of America's most precious and revered historical locations.

Please, take a moment today to write to the PGCB and express your opposition. Your word does count but time has almost run out. If the investors build this casino, we will not be able to reverse the damage.

Please contact the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board at the link below.

Contact the PGCB.

For more information on the proposed casino and the associated dangers posed to the battlefield, please see the links in the right hand column of this page listed under the heading "The Gettysburg Casino".



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Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Mourners for the Dead

Unhappy with General Don Carlos Buell, on October 24, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln elevated Major General William S. Rosecrans to the command of the Army of the Cumberland in the war's western theater. In the more politically sensitive east, he would wait another two weeks, just after the mid-term elections, to replace another General with whom he had expressed his displeasure. Major General George B. McClellan "had the slows" Lincoln had said, and so he placed McClellan's subordinate Major General Ambrose E. Burnside at the head of the grand Army of the Potomac. President Lincoln expressed to both Rosecrans and Burnside his dissatisfaction with what he viewed as both armies’ previous lack of aggressiveness. He expected a more vigorous campaign.

Fredericksburg's Reconstructed Stone Wall

Uncomfortable with having been ordered to accept overall command of the East's Army of the Potomac, its new leader began to move on Richmond. On December 13, 1862, General Burnside launched assault after bloody assault on the entrenched Confederate positions outside of the historic Virginia town of Fredericksburg. The slaughtered blanketed the cold December ground. The vast number of Union casualties appalled even some of their southern counterparts. Of the estimated 17,929 total for both sides, the Union lost about 13,353 men to the Confederates 4,576. Nine days after the battle, President Lincoln would write to his General and the men of his army.

"Executive Mansion,
December 22, 1862.

To the Army of the Potomac:

I have just read your commanding general's report of the battle of Fredericksburg. Although you were not successful, the attempt was not an error, nor the failure other than accident. The courage with which you, in an open field, maintained the contest against an intrenched foe, and the consummate skill and success with which you crossed and recrossed the river, in the face of the enemy, show that you possess all the qualities of a great army, which will yet give victory to the cause of the country and of popular government.

Condoling with the mourners for the dead, and sympathizing with the severely wounded, I congratulate you that the number of both is comparatively so small.

I tender to you, officers and soldiers, the thanks of the nation.

A. Lincoln."

About one month after accepting command of the Army of the Cumberland, General Rosecrans received a telegram from the General-In-Chief of all Union armies. It read in part, "If you remain one more week in Nashville, I cannot prevent your removal." Washington again found itself dissatisfied with a perceived lack of resolution. A few weeks later, shortly after the Union disaster at Fredericksburg, General Rosecrans would fight the bloody Battle of Stones River or Murfreesboro. This contest would see a higher percentage of casualties than any other battle during the entire war. Of the just over 80,000 men involved, almost 24,000, about one-third, were killed, wounded, or missing.

Like he had with General Burnside, President Lincoln would express his thoughts to General Rosecrans. "I can never forget, if I remember anything, that at the end of last year and the beginning of this, you gave us a hard earned victory, which had there been a defeat instead, the country scarcely could have lived over."



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American Battlefield Protection Program
NPS: Stones River Aftermath
NPS: The Battle of Stones River
Wikipedia: William Starke Rosecrans

Virtual Aerial Battlefield Tours

With the coming of winter and the corresponding disincentives to travel, I thought I'd mention an option for those who either chose to stay at home but would still like to visit a battlefield or who find themselves confined to the great indoors. Microsoft's Virtual Earth, a feature of their Live Search, allows for a unique opportunity to tour several of the Nation's Civil War Battlefields without leaving your chair or having the dogs feel neglected. This virtual search allow you to view the battlefields from a perspective ranging from 15 to 60 yards above the ground. The interactive images offer a unique opportunity to study terrain, the layout of the battlefields, or anything else that you might find.

The Angle at Gettysburg

I have included a few of the images that I found while canvasing on-line. These are each directly from Virtual Earth. For those with a dial-up connection, please forgive the slow loading time. I uploaded larger images so that people could see the images as they appear on-line. Simply click on any of the ones I've included to see the larger, more interesting version.

For those not familiar with Virtual Earth, I'll give you a quick thumbnail sketch of how to find what you'd like to see. After clicking on the link above (which should open in a separate window or tab so that you can still refer to this article), you should see a map of the United States. Having cookies enabled helps with loading time, especially in Firefox. Once it loads, you can then double click on the sections of the map that you'd like to see (it'll zoom in with each double click). For an easier way to locate sites, enter the location of your choice in the second text box at the top of the screen. It should say, "Enter City, Address, or Landmark". Fortunately, the search engine treats spelling errors kindly as it will, with limited success, attempt to guess your intentions if you're a little off.

When you zoom in on a site that will allow for the "Bird' Eye View" feature, click on the box as seen in the above image. The bird's eye view allows you to zoom in closely on the battlefield and, in some instances, see some pretty decent detail.

Arlington House at Arlington National Cemetery

Unfortunately, Virtual Earth does not yet have the Bird's Eye View for all of the Civil War Battlefields. Currently, they include images of Gettysburg, Balls Bluff, Chickamauga, Richmond, Arlington, Washington DC, and Stone Mountain. When viewing Richmond, you can find some nice views of the Tredegar Iron Works (below), and the Hollywood Cemetery. For the latter, if you know the cemetery grounds, you can find the grave sites of Jefferson Davis and George Pickett, among others, and several views of the Confederate pyramid. Virtual Earth only offered limited views of Manassas and just portions of Shiloh. As of my last search, I could not find Bird's Eye View images of Vicksburg, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Chattanooga, Malvern Hill, Cold Harbor, Gaines Mill, Antietam, or Harpers Ferry. They did however have the usual satellite imagery for each of these, but the quality suffers when compared to the other close-ups.

Tredegar Iron Works, Richmond, VA

When zoomed in close, you can more easily navigate the various locations by either dragging the larger image as you would in an Adobe PDF document, or by using the small navigation pane on the left (pictured in the image above). When the dragged image does not refresh, as it tends to avoid doing just when you're getting close to what you want, using the small navigation pane sometimes resolves the issue.

One other interesting feature is the compass (also pictured above) which allows you to view a scene from at least four different directions. When looking at a Bird's Eye image, just click on one of the compass points and it will offer another view. For several sites, such as Stone Mountain, the compass comes in handy since at first Virtual Earth shows it upside down.

Expect to practice a little patience as Virtual Earth at times has difficulty rendering the images or apparently simply deciding if it'll let you see them at all. Using the compass may allow you to see an image that it initially said was not available. Some of the images are perhaps a year or more old since, for example, they still show the car dealership that the National Park Service has since removed from the Battlefield at Gettysburg.

If you decide to have a look, good luck and happy hunting.



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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Book Review: Lincoln and Chief Justice Taney

The full title of this book, "Lincoln and Chief Justice Taney, Slavery, Secession, and the President’s War Powers", appears at first glance sufficiently comprehensive to cover the anticipated content of James F. Simon’s latest work. But soon after opening the cover, it became obvious that such assumptions would prove a pleasant underestimation of the book’s contents. What could have revealed itself as a rather dry treatise on the law and executive authority emerged as an engaging history of two men whose intertwined legacies and personal qualities helped to sharpen the emerging identity of our nation.

James F. Simon, author of six previous books, including "What Kind of Nation: Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, and the Epic Struggle to Create a United States", is the Martin Professor of Law and Dean Emeritus at the New York Law School. Through his current work, Mr. Simon states that he wishes to quot;…trace the long, sometimes tortuous journeys that brought Lincoln and Taney to their final judgments, and actions, on the issues that threatened the survival of the United States." He does just that.

Simon guides you through the complex lives of these two iconic yet very real men, giving the reader a clear sense of how each shaped, and was shaped by, the crises tearing apart a young nation. Moving easily through each page, the corresponding decades of history, and the intricate array of national conflicts, you become sadly resolved to the inevitability of the looming war. But far from simply being swept along by this irresistible tide, Simon discusses how each man contributed to the swirling vortex of national debate and eventual conflict. The increasingly frictional blending of slavery, economics, political ideology, regional animosity, and mutual distrust merge caustically to drive the North and South, Democrats and Republicans, abolitionists and conservatives to a resolute volatility that would shatter the lives of hundreds of thousands and yet save millions.

The author’s treatment of Roger Taney’s extensive political life, including his service as Attorney General under President Andrew Jackson, lends a degree of understanding to the evolution of the complex perspectives of a man too frequently mentioned only during discussions of Dred Scott or the challenging Lincoln’s suspension of the Writ of Habeas Corpus. During the engaging depictions of both Lincoln’s younger days and his eventful political career, the reader hears of how the future president’s early triumphs and failures, his unfailing determination, and gregarious personality shaped who he could become and how he would approach pursuing and executing his duties in public office.

From the Fugitive Slave Law, the Amistad decision, the Missouri Compromise, the decisions of Chief Justice Marshall, the Merriman and Vallandigham decisions, among others, Simon discusses how these legal opinions shaped, crystallized, and then polarized the sentiments of the nation. They irrefutably set the stage for the escalation of hostilities ranging from interpersonal disagreements to the eventual collision of armies.

Despite the wealth of intriguing biographical information, this is not simply a dual biography. For example, although he takes the time to mention details of Chief Justice Taney’s death, he does not pursue the familiar story of Lincoln’s. That is not the point of this book. Simon instead focuses on the journey taken by these two men and the nation they spent their lives serving and how each interacted dynamically to change the other.

On the back cover of "Lincoln and Chief Justice Taney", one finds a sadly relevant statement which further emphasizes the significance of this book. The few lines read, "The United States suffers an unexpected attack. The president deploys the armed forces and assumes extraordinary powers that go well beyond the Constitution. Hundreds of persons suspected of aiding the enemy are arrested and held without charge. James F. Simon discusses these tensions between the president and the Supreme Court, created not by 9/11, but those between President Abraham Lincoln and Chief Justice Roger B. Taney during the Civil War. This well-written and engaging narrative is a primer for today's challenge of balancing national security and civil liberties." While avoiding indulging in minutia, James Simon successfully documents many of the significant crises of the mid 19th Century and succeeds admirably in clarifying how Abraham Lincoln and Roger B. Taney responded to "the issues that threatened the survival of the United States."



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Personal note: In the interest of fair disclosure, I should add that I received a copy of this book specifically for review. As a condition for agreeing to write a review however, I had stated that, if in my judgment I found this book unjustly biased or lacking the appropriate degree of scholarship, I would not write a negative review but would simply remain silent. The presence of the above is my acknowledgment that I both enjoyed the book and found it a worthy introduction to the topics discussed.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

They Would Rather Die

While walking the fields of the Brawner Farm at the Manassas Battlefield, I came upon a narrow woodland trail, soggy with the recent heavy autumn rains. In the summer of 1862, just yards from this place, Union men marched east searching for the elusive Stonewall Jackson and his Corps of veterans. Jackson would remain out of site along the cut of an unfinished rail road, awaiting the opportunity to pounce on the prey that erroneously believed that they hunted him. As the blue coats passed along the road in his front, Jackson opened fire. Act one of the sanguinary drama had begun.

Looking to the wood line north of the road, Union Brigadier General John Gibbon ordered the 2nd Wisconsin Infantry forward to scatter what he mistakenly identified as Confederate horse artillery. Instead, he soon discovered his single regiment challenged Stonewall Jackson's entire command. Gibbon quickly ordered his brigade forward while the Virginians held firm, striving to obliterate their Federal foes.

Both sides shunned maneuver. Neither stood more than 80 yards apart, firing directly into each others' lines. Both endured incredible casualties. After several hours, the slug-fest ended with darkness appropriating the grimly contested ground. The men in blue withdrew to safer quarters and awaited tomorrow's fight.

In his official report, General Jackson would say only, "The loss on both sides was heavy..." John Gibbon's report more thoroughly underscored the reaper's ghastly harvest. "The total loss of the brigade is, killed, 133; wounded, 539; missing, 79. Total, 751." In just a few hours, he lost over one-third of his entire command.

Along the path on which I walked I found a small marker, faded, cracking, and seemingly forgotten. The lettering, light but readable, spoke to anyone who would hear of deeds some fourteen decades past. As the whispers of horror and heroism fade with time, this tiny sentinel cracks open a window into a time that violently forged our country's identity. The faded facade still bears the words of a nameless soldier, long since dead, who once more speaks of the events of that day.

"We soon found that we had to deal with General Ewell's whole division of picked men. We advanced within hailing distance of each other, then halted and laid down, and my God, what a slaughter! No one appeared to know the object of the fight, and there we stood one hour, the men falling all around; but we got no orders to fall back, and Wisconsin men would rather die than fall back without orders."

Many on both sides did.



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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Private George Warner, 20th Connecticut

On Friday, July 3, 1863, the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg, the 20th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry advanced stubbornly towards the Confederates who had taken their earthworks the previous night. Since before dawn, Union artillery had been shelling the Southern lines adding to the effort to drive the boys in gray off of Culp's Hill.

The 20th received orders not just to dislodge their foes but to relay back to the Union artillery the position of their Southern adversaries. As the fire increased and men in blue began to fall, the 20th's Colonel William Wooster grew increasingly angry. His blood boiled not because of the stubbornly resisting Confederates but due to the Union shells that began to strike his own men. When an exploding round slammed into Private George Warner, Colonel Wooster sent word to the artillery that if they again harmed anyone in his care, he would order the 20th to turn about and charge the batteries.

The commander of the Brigade to which the Connecticut regiment belonged, Archibald L. McDougall described what the 20th endured. "Lieutenant-Colonel Wooster, who was in command of this regiment, had a difficult and responsible duty to perform. He was not only required to keep the enemy in check, but encountered great difficulty, while resisting the enemy, in protecting himself against the fire of our own artillery, aimed partly over his command at the enemy in and near our intrenchments. His greatest embarrassment was, the farther he pushed the enemy the more directly he was placed under the fire of our own guns. Some of his men became severely wounded by our artillery fire. "

In his own official report, Colonel Wooster would expand upon the trials his men faced. "...The enemy were endeavoring to advance through the woods, so as to turn the right flank of the Second Division, and were met and successfully resisted by my regiment. In this position I was enabled to repeatedly communicate to the colonel commanding the brigade and the general commanding the division the movements of the enemy in our immediate front, thereby enabling our artillery to more accurately obtain the range of the enemy and to greatly increase the effectiveness of our shells. At times it became necessary to advance my left wing to successfully repulse the advancing column of the enemy, and again to retire my whole command to save it from being destroyed by our own artillery."

In his official report, Colonel McDougall would ensure that the stalwart New Englanders received the praise they had so rightfully earned on this trying and historic day. "It is also my duty to acknowledge the brave and gallant manner with which Lieutenant-Colonel Wooster, commanding the Twentieth Connecticut Volunteers, as well as the officers and men under his command, while in action on the 3d instant, aided in the recovery of our intrenchments. For several hours, without flinching, they maintained a steady contest with the enemy, enduring part of the time an afflictive and discouraging, though accidental, fire of our own batteries."

Twenty years later, the men from Connecticut would erect a modest monument on the portion of Culp's Hill that they had helped to secure. Private Warner, who miraculously survived his grievous wounding, received the high honor of unveiling the 20th's monument. The task was not a simple one given that the Union artillery's misfires had cost him both of his arms. Still, the Connecticut veterans would not allow this to stand in the way of honoring Pvt. Warner. A rope tied around his waist and a specially rigged pulley allowed the hardy veteran, by simply walking backwards, to raise the veil on the monument honoring the sacrifices of Connecticut's sons.



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Gettysburg: Stories of Men and Monuments
The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.

Captain Henry T. Owen, CSA

On July 3, 1863, Captain Henry T. Owen of Company C, 18th Virginia, marched with his men into the face of death. As players in Pickett's Charge, they stepped away from Seminary Ridge and, along with over 12,000 others, surged forward into a storm of artillery fire and the roar of several thousand muskets. Surviving the assault, Captain Owen would take command of the 18th after most of the regiment's other officers died or received disabling wounds. Some time later, he wrote to his wife of a dream that haunted him as the horror of that battle lingered on.

"Far away to the front, I saw the dim outlines of lofty hills, broken rocks, and frightful precepts which resembled Gettysburg. As we advanced further, I found we were fighting that great battle over again and I saw something before me like a thin shadow which I tried to get around and go by. But it kept in front of me and whichever way I turned, it still appeared between me and the enemy. Nobody else seemed to see or notice the shadow which looked as thin as smoke and did not prevent my seeing the enemy distinctly through it. I felt troubled and oppressed but still the shadow went on before me. I pushed forward in the thickest of the fray trying to lose sight of it and went all through the battle of Gettysburg again with this shadow forever before me and between me and the enemy.

And when I came out behind the danger of shot, it spoke to me and said, "I am the angel that protected you. I will never leave nor forsake you."

The surprise was so great, that I awoke and burst into tears. What had I done that should entitle me to such favor beyond the hundreds of brave and reputed men who had fallen on that day leaving widowed mothers and widowed wives, orphaned children and disconsolate families to mourn their fates?"



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The War of Confederate Captain Henry T. Owen

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Walt Whitman and the Wounded Soldiers

I thought I might post a few excerpts from Walt Whitman's wonderful work "Specimen Days" about his time spent helping wounded soldiers during the war.

"Fifty Hours Left Wounded on the Field

HERE is a case of a soldier I found among the crowded cots in the Patent-office. He likes to have some one to talk to, and we will listen to him. He got badly hit in his leg and side at Fredericksburgh that eventful Saturday, 13th of December. He lay the succeeding two days and nights helpless on the field, between the city and those grim terraces of batteries; his company and regiment had been compell’d to leave him to his fate. To make matters worse, it happen’d he lay with his head slightly down hill, and could not help himself. At the end of some fifty hours he was brought off, with other wounded, under a flag of truce. I ask him how the rebels treated him as he lay during those two days and nights within reach of them—whether they came to him—whether they abused him? He answers that several of the rebels, soldiers and others, came to him at one time and another. A couple of them, who were together, spoke roughly and sarcastically, but nothing worse. One middle-aged man, however, who seem’d to be moving around the field, among the dead and wounded, for benevolent purposes, came to him in a way he will never forget; treated our soldier kindly, bound up his wounds, cheer’d him, gave him a couple of biscuits and a drink of whiskey and water; asked him if he could eat some beef. This good secesh, however, did not change our soldier’s position, for it might have caused the blood to burst from the wounds, clotted and stagnated. Our soldier is from Pennsylvania; has had a pretty severe time; the wounds proved to be bad ones. But he retains a good heart, and is at present on the gain. (It is not uncommon for the men to remain on the field this way, one, two, or even four or five days.)

The Wounded from Chancellorsville

May, ’63.—AS I write this, the wounded have begun to arrive from Hooker’s command from bloody Chancellorsville. I was down among the first arrivals. The men in charge told me the bad cases were yet to come. If that is so I pity them, for these are bad enough. You ought to see the scene of the wounded arriving at the landing here at the foot of Sixth street, at night. Two boat loads came about half-past seven last night. A little after eight it rain’d a long and violent shower. The pale, helpless soldiers had been debark’d, and lay around on the wharf and neighborhood anywhere. The rain was, probably, grateful to them; at any rate they were exposed to it. The few torches light up the spectacle. All around—on the wharf, on the ground, out on side places—the men are lying on blankets, old quilts, &c., with bloody rags bound round heads, arms, and legs. The attendants are few, and at night few outsiders also—only a few hard-work’d transportation men and drivers. (The wounded are getting to be common, and people grow callous.) The men, whatever their condition, lie there, and patiently wait till their turn comes to be taken up. Near by, the ambulances are now arriving in clusters, and one after another is call’d to back up and take its load. Extreme cases are sent off on stretchers. The men generally make little or no ado, whatever their sufferings. A few groans that cannot be suppress’d, and occasionally a scream of pain as they lift a man into the ambulance. To-day, as I write, hundreds more are expected, and to-morrow and the next day more, and so on for many days. Quite often they arrive at the rate of 1000 a day.

Bad Wounds—The Young

THE SOLDIERS are nearly all young men, and far more American than is generally supposed—I should say nine-tenths are native-born. Among the arrivals from Chancellorsville I find a large proportion of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois men. As usual, there are all sorts of wounds. Some of the men fearfully burnt from the explosions of artillery caissons. One ward has a long row of officers, some with ugly hurts. Yesterday was perhaps worse than usual. Amputations are going on—the attendants are dressing wounds. As you pass by, you must be on your guard where you look. I saw the other day a gentleman, a visitor apparently from curiosity, in one of the wards, stop and turn a moment to look at an awful wound they were probing. He turn’d pale, and in a moment more he had fainted away and fallen on the floor.

Death of a Hero

I WONDER if I could ever convey to another—to you, for instance, reader dear—the tender and terrible realities of such cases, (many, many happen’d,) as the one I am now going to mention. Stewart C. Glover, company E, 5th Wisconsin—was wounded May 5, in one of those fierce tussles of the Wilderness—died May 21—aged about 20. He was a small and beardless young man—a splendid soldier—in fact almost an ideal American, of his age. He had serv’d nearly three years, and would have been entitled to his discharge in a few days. He was in Hancock’s corps. The fighting had about ceas’d for the day, and the general commanding the brigade rode by and call’d for volunteers to bring in the wounded. Glover responded among the first—went out gayly—but while in the act of bearing in a wounded sergeant to our lines, was shot in the knee by a rebel sharpshooter; consequence, amputation and death. He had resided with his father, John Glover, an aged and feeble man, in Batavia, Genesee country, N. but was at school in Wisconsin, after the war broke out, and there enlisted—soon took to soldier-life, liked it, was very manly, was belov’d by officers and comrades. He kept a little diary, like so many of the soldiers. On the day of his death he wrote the following in it, to-day the doctor says I must die—all is over with me—ah, so young to die. On another blank leaf he pencill’d to his brother, dear brother Thomas, I have been brave but wicked—pray for me.

Unnamed Remains the Bravest Soldier

OF scenes like these, I say, who writes—whoe’er can write the story? Of many a score—aye, thousands, north and south, of unwrit heroes, unknown heroisms, incredible, impromptu, first-class desperations—who tells? No history ever—no poem sings, no music sounds, those bravest men of all—those deeds. No formal general’s report, nor book in the library, nor column in the paper, embalms the bravest, north or south, east or west. Unnamed, unknown, remain, and still remain, the bravest soldiers. Our manliest—our boys—our hardy darlings; no picture gives them. Likely, the typic one of them (standing, no doubt, for hundreds, thousands,) crawls aside to some bush-clump, or ferny tuft, on receiving his death-shot—there sheltering a little while, soaking roots, grass and soil, with red blood—the battle advances, retreats, flits from the scene, sweeps by—and there, haply with pain and suffering (yet less, far less, than is supposed,) the last lethargy winds like a serpent round him—the eyes glaze in death—none recks—perhaps the burial-squads, in truce, a week afterwards, search not the secluded spot—and there, at last, the Bravest Soldier crumbles in mother earth, unburied and unknown."



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Source: Walt Whitman: Specimen Days

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Free Alcohol at Gettysburg Casino

The incongruity is obvious. "Gaming will be good for Pennsylvania" the gambling lobbyists say. Yet the Pennsylvania Legislature just voted to allow free alcohol from 7am to 2am in the Pennsylvania casinos. The Lebanon Daily News, located just east of Harrisburg, said the following:

"...the casinos ply every trick in the book to wedge a few more dollars out of the wallet and into the machines.

Pennsylvania Legislature has given casinos one of the most powerful tools available to do just that with their vote to allow unlimited free alcohol to gamblers at the coming slots parlors in Pennsylvania.

By current rule, horse tracks can’t serve any free drinks; taverns and other establishments have a one-free-drink rule by which they must abide.

That’s not good enough for the casinos, and now, depending on the whim of Gov. Ed Rendell, they’ll be able to ignore that rule. The rule for casinos will be to serve ’em up all day and most of the night — from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. — as fast as patrons can drain them."

If the proposed casino at Gettysburg is allowed to see the light of day, the patrons who lose everything will leave the casino with empty pockets and veins full of free alcohol. Broke, drunk, and despondent, they will be a danger to the other people on the road and the monuments in and around the park. Neither are replaceable.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board will hold its final hearing for the Gettysburg casino on December 4, 2006. To express your opposition to the casino before this tragedy cannot be undone, please visit the links below.

Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board

Governor Ed Rendell



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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thanksgiving References in the Official Records

A search for the word "Thanksgiving" in the Official Records revealed some interesting results. After reading through the various segments of the record, it appeared that people of the time primarily employed the term "thanksgiving" for at least three different purposes. Several quotes of course referenced President Lincoln's proclamation concerning a national day of thanksgiving. More frequently, soldiers and commanding officers used the term to express a general feeling of gratitude to The Almighty for victories won and as a plea for future success. For example, after the surrender of the Union garrison at Munfordville, Kentucky, General Braxton Bragg issued the following:

"General Orders,
No. 6.

Hdqrs. Army of the Mississippi
Munfordville, Ky., September 17, 1862

…Tomorrow, September 18, having been specially set aside by our President to be observed as a day of thanksgiving and prayer to Almighty God for the manifold blessings recently vouchsafed to us and to our cause, the general commanding earnestly recommends to the army to devote the day of rest allotted to them to the observance of this sacred duty. Acknowledging our dependence at all times upon a merciful Providence, it is meet that we should m not only render thanks for the general success of our cause and of this campaign, but should particularly manifest our gratitude for a bloodless victory instead of a success purchased with the destruction of life and property. Braxton Bragg, General, Commanding"

General Robert E. Lee likewise issued similar orders following Confederate victory at Chickamauga.

"General Orders
No. 89.

HDQRS. Army of Northern Virginia,
September 24, 1863

The Commanding General announces to the army, with profound gratitude to Almighty God, the victory achieved at Chickamauga by the army of General Braxton Bragg.

After a fierce and sanguinary conflict of two days, the Federal forces under General Rosecrans were driven, with heavy loss, from their strong positions, and, leaving their dead and wounded on the field, retreated under cover of night on Chattanooga, pursued by our cavalry.

Rendering to the Great Giver of Victory, as is most justly due, our praise and thanksgiving for this signal manifestation of His favor, let us extend to the army that has so nobly upheld the honor of our country the tribute of our admiration for its valor, and sympathy for its suffering and loss.

Invoking the continuous assistance of Heaven upon our efforts, let us resolve to emulate the heroic example of our brethren in the south, until the enemy shall be expelled fro our borders and peace and independence be secured to our country.

R. E. Lee, General"

Even as fierce a general as Nathan Bedford Forrest followed suit.

"General Orders
No. 44.

HDQRS. Forrest’s Cavalry Department
Tupelo , May 14, 1864

The Major-General commanding, devoutly grateful to the providence Almighty God so signally vouchsafed to his command during the recent campaign in West Tennessee, and deeply penetrated with a sense of our dependence upon the mercy of God, in the present crisis of our beloved country, requests that military duties be so far suspended that divine service may be attended at 10 a.m. on to-morrow by the whole command. Divine service will be held at these headquarters, to which all soldiers who are disposed to do so, are kindly invited. Come one, come all. Chaplains in the ministration of the gospel are requested to remember our personal preservation with thanksgiving, and especially to beseech the Throne of Grace for aid in this our country’s hour of need.

By order of Major-General Forrest:
W. H. Brand, Acting Assistant Adjutant-General."

Union men employed the term thanksgiving in a like manner. Toward year's end in 1863, the Union's General-in-Chief sent the following to General Grant.

"War Department
Washington, November 26, 1863-11:15am

I congratulate you and your army on the victories of Chattanooga. This is truly a day of thanksgiving.

H. W. Halleck, General-in-Chief."

A few month's earlier, President Lincoln would give a similar message to the people asking for a day of prayer and thanksgiving.

"Executive Mansion,
Washington, May 9, 1863.

To the Friends of the Union and Liberty:

Enough is known of the army operations within the last five days to claim our especial gratitude to God, while what remains undone demands our most sincere prayers to and reliance upon Him, without whom all human efforts are in vain. I recommend that all patriots at their homes, in their places of public worship, and wherever they may be, unite in common thanksgiving and prayer to Almighty God.

Abraham Lincoln"

His commanding generals would do similarly.

"General Orders
No. 123.

HDQRS Department of the Ohio
Cincinnati, Ohio, August 5, 1863.

In accordance with the proclamation of the President of the United States, appointing Thursday, the 6th instant, as a day of thanksgiving for the signal advances made by the Union arms toward the suppression of rebellion, ad of prayer that they be continued, to the speedy restoration of peace with a once more united country, the commanding general directs that the day be kept sacred for these purposes by the forces under his command, and, abstaining so far as is practicable from all military business or movements, they observe this day in a manner worthy of the victories that have been granted us and of the cause we have espoused.

By command of Major-General Burnside:
Lewis Richmond, Assistant Adjutant-General."

On several occasions, Thanksgiving as a holiday became intertwined with the conflicts of the day. In one instance, its recognition served as a litmus test for loyalty to the Union.

"Lexington, April 25, 1865-7 p.m.

Major-General Dodge:

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of telegram of this date inquiring by what authority I closed loyal man’s church, and what are the reasons for such orders, to which I would respectfully answer that I do not think I have closed a loyal man’s church. My reasons for closing the Methodist Episcopal Church South, of this place, are briefly these: On the 7th of April, from the well-known disloyalty of the churches of this place, I issued a post order that on the next Sabbath the pastors of the churches should return thanks for the late victories and prospect of peace. The pastor of the Methodist Episcopal Church South did not do so. I passed the matter unnoticed until the evening of the 15th instant, when, not having opened or caused his church to be opened for the Thanksgiving service, in accordance with the proclamation of His Excellency Governor Fletcher, I informed that pastor that I should take the keys of the church until it could be occupied by a loyal preacher. I hope the general commanding will allow me the privilege of sustaining this action as a proper military necessity.

I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
B. K. Davis, Major, Comdg. Fourth Sub-District, Central Division of Missouri"

On another occasion, the celebration of Thanksgiving became a point of conflict between a commander and his subordinate.

"Baltimore, November 21, 1864-1:15p.m.

General Townsend, Assistant Adjutant-General:

I hope the permission, given by Hon. Mr. Dana., Assistant Secretary of War, to the Secessionists of Baltimore to feast the rebel prisoners in hospital will be withdrawn. I was not consulted. Had I been I would have objected to the making of such a request. The permission will be construed as a license to make manifest once more, the disloyalty, now completely cowed, in this city. I beg the sleeping fiend may be let alone.

Lew. Wallace, Major-General, Commanding.

Adjutant-General’s Office
Washington , November 21, 1864.

Maj. Gen. L. Wallace, U.S. Volunteers,

Commanding Middle Department, Baltimore , Md. :

Your dispatch in relation to feast to rebel soldiers has been shown to the Secretary of War. The request which was granted was that Union Ladies’ Committee might be authorized to receive contributions for rebel prisoners, as well as for our own men, all to be distributed by the Union Committee. No political demonstration was contemplated, and it is within your power to stop anything which would lead to such demonstration. The Secretary sees no objection to supplies for Thanksgiving being received and distributed to rebel prisoners by our Union Committee, provided our own men receive an equal share of all the contributions with the other prisoners. Acknowledge receipt. E. D. Townsend, Assistant Adjutant-General.

Headquarters Middle Department
Baltimore , November 21, 1864.

Capt. Oliver Matthews,
Assistant Adjutant General, New York City :

A Thanksgiving dinner has been provided for the soldiers at each of the hospitals here. The ladies are also making arrangements to contribute additional supplies. Therefore, those so kindly offered by their New York friends will not be needed.

Saml. B. Lawrence, Assistant Adjutant-General."

The following quote, again as related to conflict, speaks for itself.

"Headquarters District of Southeastern Missouri,
Pilot Knob, Mo. , November 26, 1863.

Capt. V. Preuitt, Bloomfield,

McRae was reported at Doniphan, with a few hundred rebels, on Monday last, and was contemplating a raid either on Bloomfield or Patterson. He may move on you. If he does, he will only give the gallant First Missouri boys one more opportunity of demonstrating that they can’t be whipped. We shall re-enforce you from Cape Girardeau and Greenville , if you need. Keep me constantly advised, and, if you get in trouble, press every man, horse, and gun within reach, and give the rascals such a Thanksgiving welcome as the survivors will be apt to remember.

Clinton B. Fisk, Brigadier-General"

Finally, this quote notes both a plea to offer thanks and a recognition of the dreadful toll taken by this catastrophic war.

"General Orders
No. 4.

Headquarters Fourth Army Corps,
Greenville , East Tenn. , April 13, 1865.

The glorious success of the national arms under Lieut. Gen. U. S. Grant being no longer a matter of any doubt, the army under his command having killed, wounded, captured, and forced the capitulation of the entire principal army of the rebels, including their commander-in-chief, to-morrow, which is the day appointed by the War Department for the raising of the old flag over Fort Sumter, where it was first insulted and pulled down by insolent traitors, will be kept as a holiday and a day of thanksgiving in this corps. A salute of 100 guns will be fired at 12 m. under the direction of Major Goodspeed, chief of artillery. All military duty, excepting necessary police and guard duty, will be suspended. It is recommended that chaplains of regiments hold service in their respective places of worship to render thanks to Almighty God for His goodness and mercy in preserving us a nation and giving us this great victory over our enemies. Let us in our thankfulness remember in tears the many brave men who have fallen at our sides in this great and terrible war. Who among us has not lost a brother, a relative, or a dear comrade? Let us reflect, and we may profit by doing so, that great national, as great personal, sin must be atoned for by great punishments.

By command of Maj. Gen. D. S. Stanley:
WM. H. Sinclair, Assistant Adjutant-General."



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Tuesday, November 21, 2006


In just a few days, people throughout this great country will take a moment to sit together and give thanks for the blessings, large and small, bestowed upon them during the past year. Many will enjoy family, friends, and good food while they accept a welcome a respite from the perils of everyday life. This American tradition began four centuries ago in the settlements in New England. In the early 1620s, the pilgrims who came to this land to begin life anew set aside a day towards years end to thank God for the harvest that would allow for their survival through the harsh winters to come.

A century and a half would pass when, on October 3, 1789, after enduring years of warfare, privation, and loss, President George Washington offered the following proclamation to the young nation he so faithfully served.

"Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanks-giving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness." Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th. day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be."

Seventy four years later, President Abraham Lincoln served a nation torn apart by internecine war. Hundreds of thousands had died. Others would never again be whole. Those who had inherited the young nation threatened to destroy what their founding fathers had fought so hard to create. The American Civil War saw several ideologies bitterly struggling to define the type of nation within which their children would live. Despite the carnage and catastrophe, President Lincoln sought to bring the people of his wounded land together. He strove to emphasize the positive during a time so many had experienced overwhelming suffering and loss. On October 3, 1863, the same day Washington had issued his proclamation three quarters of a century earlier, Abraham Lincoln would address the American people.

"The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.

A. Lincoln"



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Library of Congress
US Senate: History of Thanksgiving
Classical Library

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Preserving Our Civil War Battlefields

In 1993, the Civil War Sites Advisory Commission submitted to Congress a comprehensive report on the status, significance, and need to preserve our threatened Civil War Battlefield sites. Far from the usual, tedious, bureaucratic language, the committee, including members like Edwin C. Bearss and James McPherson, spoke from their collective hearts. A portion of their report follows.

"Why Save Civil War Sites?

More than 620,000 American soldiers, sailors, and marines died in the Civil War. If the same proportion of our population were killed today, five million Americans would die! The casualties at Antietam on September 17, 1862, totaled three times the American casualties on D-Day, June 6, 1944. The Civil War destroyed the Confederacy and the South sank from being one of the wealthiest to being one of the poorest regions in the United States.

This terrible trauma should not be celebrated, nor should it be blotted from the national memory. And for good reason. That second American Revolution of 1861-1865 radically changed America while settling two fundamental, festering issues left unresolved by the first Revolution of 1776: whether the precarious experiment of the democratic republic federated in a union of states would survive; and whether slavery would continue to mock the ideals of this boasted land of liberty.
The Civil War transformed a loose federation of states into a unified and confident nation that launched into the 20th century as the world's leading economic producer and foremost democratic nation.

Yet, while acknowledging all this, some have asked: Why do anything more to protect the battlefields? Are not the principal battlefields already preserved in National and state parks? Can we not understand the important political and social changes that resulted from the war without studying the battles? Does not this preoccupation with "hallowed ground" romanticize violence and glorify war? These questions deserve answers.

First, an understanding of military campaigns and battles is crucial to comprehending all other aspects of the Civil War. Lincoln said in his second inaugural address that on "the progress of our arms...all else chiefly depends." Individual battles swayed elections, shaped political decisions, determined economic mobilization, brought women into the war effort, and influenced decisions to abolish slavery as well as to recruit former slaves in large numbers as soldiers.

The Seven Days battles prevented an early Union victory and changed the conflict from a limited to a total war; Antietam forestalled European recognition of the Confederacy and prompted the Emancipation Proclamation; Vicksburg, Gettysburg, and Chattanooga reversed a tide of Confederate victories that had threatened the Northern will to keep fighting; Sherman's capture of Atlanta and Sheridan's victories in the Shenandoah secured Lincoln's reelection, confirmed emancipation as a Northern war aim, and ensured continuation of the war to unconditional victory. A different outcome to any of these as well as other battles might have changed the course of the war -- and perhaps of the world's history.

So the battles were important. But do we need to preserve the battlefields to appreciate that truth? Can we not learn by reading books about campaigns and battles? The Commission has concluded the answer is "No." In part, this is simply a matter of being able to visualize how geography and topography shaped a battle -- the pattern of fields and woods, hills and valleys, roads and rock outcroppings, and rivers and streams. This cannot be done if the historical landscape has been paved over, cluttered with buildings, or carved into a different shape.

Those who have read about the ill-fated Pickett-Pettigrew charge at Gettysburg, but have not seen the place where it occurred, cannot understand it until they go there. Not until they view the three-quarters of a mile of open fields and walk the ground those Confederate soldiers trod, can they truly comprehend the courage needed to press onward, and why the assault, which cost some 10,000 Confederate casualties, failed.

If they could similarly view and walk the attack route of Union troops against Missionary Ridge in Chattanooga, they would be able to understand why that attack, seemingly more hopeless than at Gettysburg, succeeded spectacularly. Sadly though, Missionary Ridge now is built over.

But understanding Civil War battles is more than a matter of grasping their topographical and tactical details. Being present on a battlefield, we can experience an emotional empathy with the men who fought there. With a little imagination we can hear the first rebel yell at Manassas, imagine the horror as brush fires overtook the wounded at Wilderness, experience the terror of raw recruits at Perryville, share the anguish of the families of 800 or more unknown soldiers buried in a mass grave at Cold Harbor, or hear the hoarse yells of exhausted survivors of the Twentieth Maine as they launched a bayonet charge at Gettysburg's Little Round Top.

Every visitor to a Civil War battlefield has experienced such feelings. Proper educational and interpretive programs aid the visitor to visualize these dramatic scenes and to comprehend their meanings.

These experiences help us to understand what the Civil War was all about. This is not a matter of glorifying or romanticizing war. Quite the contrary; it is a matter of comprehending its grim reality. The battlefields are monuments to the gritty courage of the men who fought and died there. None condemned war more than those who suffered the horror and trauma of battle. In 1862, a Confederate veteran of Shiloh wrote home: "O it was too shocking too horrible. God grant that I may never be the partaker in such scenes again.... When released from this I shall ever be an advocate of peace."
Yet these men soldiered on through three more years of even bloodier battles than Shiloh. Most Civil War soldiers were volunteers. They fought not for glory, nor for money, but for a cause in which they believed deeply. They longed for peace and for a safe return to their families. But many of them reenlisted at least once, determined to fight for that cause even though they hated war.

A Confederate officer wrote in 1864 that "I am sick of war" but "were the contest again just commenced I would willingly undergo it again for the sake of our country's independence and liberty." An Ohio corporal in the trenches before Atlanta wrote, also in 1864: "There is nothing pleasant about this life, but I can endure its privations because there is a big idea at stake." And an African-American soldier wrote "If roasting on a bed of coals afire would do away with the curse of slavery, I would be willing to be the sacrifice."

These clashing convictions and the deadly determination to fight for them explain why the war lasted four long years and cost 620,000 lives. They also explain why Civil War veterans took the lead in creating the first National battlefield parks in the 1890s--not to glorify the war, but to commemorate the sacrifice of friends they had lost. "In our youth our hearts were touched with fire" wrote the thrice-wounded veteran Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., "It was given to us to learn at the outset that life is a profound and passionate thing."

Americans cannot afford to forget this lesson. It is perhaps the most important legacy of the Civil War. And the battlefields are the tangible monuments of that legacy. The Civil War touched the lives of everyone at the time, and it continues to do so today. Americans by the millions visit those relatively few battle sites that are accessible. Most come to share in a renewal of values and to understand more about the war, its profound meaning for themselves, and its lessons for our diverse nation--such as our ideals of tolerance.

Today many people know, or would like to know, of specific battlefields where some three million of their own ancestors participated in the historic events. The ability for so many to identify such a personal connection with one of the most memorable events in the American consciousness sets the Civil War and its battlefield sites apart from most historical events.

Communities, too, take great pride in their proximity to battlefields. A connection exists between a community and large national themes. Relationships forged by the Civil War -- among its battlefields, its consequences, and our people and communities today -- form a seamless web of American values, traditions, and priorities.
And finally, as with many historic properties significant in our national history, the principal Civil War battlefields need to be preserved and protected as places to answer important questions not yet asked and for purposes not yet perceived.
In this manner, and for these reasons, Civil War battlefields are a crucial link in the historical traditions that bind our nation together -- today and for the future."

When discussing their recommendations the commission concluded, "The Civil War Sites Advisory Commission has found that of the approximately 10,500 armed conflict sites known from the Civil War, 384 of them, about 3.7 percent, were the principal battle actions. These are the events that influenced the outcome of the war, its major campaigns, or important local operations.

Today, many of these 384 principal battlefields are lost; others are in imminent danger of fragmentation and loss as coherent historic sites. Over the next ten years, the nation could lose fully two-thirds of the major Civil War battlefields unless preventive actions are taken."

Thirteen years later, the outlook remains fraught with both triumph and tragedy. The National Park Service and non-profit organizations have reclaimed land on the Gettysburg, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and other battlefields. Public and private entities have repaired and restored monuments and markers. Although much has been done to save and restore these grounds, the Civil War Preservation Trust, the nation’s preeminent civil war preservation organization, states sadly, " Thirty acres of Civil War battlefield land are destroyed every day. These battlefields are part of our national heritage; scenes of struggle and sacrifice where American soldiers lost their lives. CWPT is working to preserve these “hallowed grounds,” as Abraham Lincoln called them, so that future generations can learn from them and can learn to appreciate their hard-won freedom."

Much of the Battlefields at Fredericksburg, Chattanooga, Franklin, Chancellorsville, Nashville, Petersburg, the Seven Days, and so many others are now entirely and completely lost to current and future generations. The CWPT notes Gettysburg as being one of the top ten threatened fields in the nation due to the proposed casino. Consider the tragedy if Americans and people from around the world would never again have the chance to walk those fields and understand the events that transformed our nation like no other time in history.

We do have the chance, the obligation to save and preserve what remains of our past so that future generations can understand how we became what we are. For more information on how every individual can help, please see the links below.



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Civil War Sites Advisory Commission Report on the Nation's Civil War Battlefields

The Civil War Preservation Trust

Preservation Organizations and Information:
Civil War Preservation Organizations

By Any Other Name

In the mid 1880s, The Century magazine published a series of articles written about the various battles of the war by the men who led their armies into those conflicts. Confederate Lieutenant General Daniel Harvey Hill wrote a section concerning the Battle of South Mountain, just prior to the Battle of Antietam. Before discussing the fighting, he took a moment to relay his thoughts on why others might instead refer to these two battles as those of Boonsboro and Sharpsburg. He also did not miss the opportunity to take a shot at those who fanned the flames of war but kept their distance from the fire.

"THE conflict of the 14th of September, 1862, is called at the North the battle of South Mountain, and at the South the battle of Boonsboro. So many battle-fields of the Civil War bear double names that we cannot believe the duplication has been accidental. It is the unusual which impresses. The troops of the North came mainly from cities, towns, and villages, and were, therefore, impressed by some natural object near the scene of the conflict and named the battle from it. The soldiers from the South were chiefly from the country and were, therefore, impressed by some artificial object near the field of action. In one section the naming has been after the handiwork of God; in the other section it has been after the handiwork of man. Thus, the first passage of arms is called the battle of Bull Run at the North,---the name of a little stream. At the South it takes the name of Manassas, from a railroad station. The second battle on the same ground is called the Second Bull Run by the North, and the Second Manassas by the South. Stone's defeat is the battle of Ball's Bluff with the Federals, and the battle of Leesburg with the Confederates. The battle called by General Grant, Pittsburg Landing, a natural object, was named Shiloh, after a church, by his antagonist. Rosecrans called his first great fight with Bragg, the battle of Stone River, while Bragg named it after Murfreesboro', a village. So McClellan's battle of the Chickahominy, a little river, was with Lee the battle of Cold Harbor, a tavern. The Federals speak of the battle of Pea Ridge, of the Ozark range of mountains, and the Confederates call it after Elk Horn, a country inn. The Union soldiers called the bloody battle three days after South Mountain from the little stream, Antietam, and the Southern troops named it after the village of Sharpsburg. Many instances might be given of this double naming by the opposing forces. According to the same law of the unusual, the war-songs of a people have generally been written. The bards who followed the banners of the feudal lords, sang of their exploits, and stimulated them and their retainers to deeds of high emprise, wore no armor and carried no swords. So, too, the impassioned orators, who roused our ancestors in 1776 with the thrilling cry, "Liberty or Death," never once put themselves in the way of a death by lead or steel, by musket-ball or bayonet stab. The noisy speakers of 1861, who fired the Northern heart and who fired the Southern heart, never did any other kind of firing."



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Source: Ohio State University

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Window Into McClellan

While reading Stephen W. Sears excellent book "Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam", I reacted with surprise to one small sentence. Characterizations of General George Brinton McClellan typically paint him as exclusively a soldiers general, a great organizer, timid on the battlefield, and frequently directing his wrath at any government or army official foolish enough to challenge his authority. His men adored him like no other Union commander. This is perhaps why I reacted with surprise when I read on page 279 the general's response to the 79th New York, a group of Scottish soldiers who had refused to fight unless the army lifted the ban on wearing kilts. The sentence read,

"McClellan's response was to surround them with hardbitten regulars with orders to shoot if the volunteers did not promptly return to duty..."

This side of General McClellan seems rarely discussed.



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Our Army is Generally Badly Cut Up

After the Battle of Gettysburg, Captain J. J. Young of the 26th North Carolina wrote this grim assessment of the fighting to Governor Zebulon Vance.

The 26th North Carolina Marker
noting the point of the regiment's advance
just feet from the Union line on Cemtery Ridge.

"Near Gettysburg, PA., July 4, 1863.

My Dear Governor:

I will trespass a few minutes upon your indulgence to communicate the sad fate that has befallen the old Twenty-sixth. The heaviest conflict of the war has taken place in this vicinity. It commenced July 1, and raged furiously until late last night. Heth's division, of A. P. Hill's corps, opened the ball, and Pettigrew's brigade was the advance. We went in with over 800 men in the regiment. There came out but 216, all told, unhurt. Yesterday they were again engaged, and now have only about 80 men for duty. To give you an idea of the frightful loss in officers: Heth being wounded, Pettigrew commands the division and Major J. Jones our brigade. Eleven men were shot down the first day with our colors; yesterday they were lost. Poor Colonel Burgwyn, jr., was shot through both lungs, and died shortly afterward. His loss is great, for he had but few equals of his age. Captain McCreery, of General Pettigrew's staff, was shot through the heart and instantly killed' with them Lieutenant-Colonel Lane through the neck, jaw, and mouth, I fear mortally; Adjutant James B. Jordan in the hip, severely; Captain J. T. Adams, shoulder, seriously; Stokes McRae's thigh broken; Captain William Wilson was killed; Lieutenants John W. Richardson and J. B. Holloway have died of their wounds. It is thought Lieutenant M. McLeod and Captain N. G. Bradford will die. Nearly all the rest of the officers were slightly wounded. I. A. Jarratt I had forgotten to mention-in the face and hand. Yesterday, Captain S. P. Wagg was shot through by grape and instantly killed; Lieutenant G. Broughton in the head, and instantly killed, Alexander Saunders was wounded and J. R. Emerson left on the field for dead. Captain H. C. Albright is the only captain left in the regiment unhurt, and commands the regiment. Lieutenants J. A. Lowe, M. B. Blair, T. J. Cureton, and C. M. Sudderth are all of the subalterns. Colonel Faribault, of the Forty-seventh, is severely wounded. Lieutenant-Colonel J. A. Graves and Major A. D. Crudup supposed killed. Colonel Marshall and Major J. Q. Richardson, of the Fifty-second, supposed to be killed. Lieutenant-Colonel Parks dangerously wounded; Colonel Leventhorpe badly wounded; Major Ross killed. Our whole division numbers but only 1,500 or 1,600 effective men, as officially reported, but, of course, a good many will still come in. The division at the beginning numbered about 8,000 effective men. I hear our army is generally badly cut up. We will fall back about 5 miles, to draw the enemy, if possible, from his impregnable position. It was a second Fredericksburg affair, only the wrong way. We had to charge over a mile a stone wall in an elevated position. I learn the loss of the enemy is terrible. We have taken 10,000 or 15,000 prisoners in all. Yesterday, in falling back, we had to leave the wounded; hence the uncertainty of a good many being killed late yesterday evening. I must close.

Yours truly,

J. J. Young, Captain, and Assistant Quartermaster.

His Excellency Gov. Zebulon B. Vance."



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Source: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies
The text appears as it does in the record minus 21 sets of brackets "[ ]" which made the reading difficult. The brackets were around the initials of the names noted above.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Short Story: All Hallows Eve

Dedicated to a friend to whom I promised to write this story.
Happy Halloween CP.


An unusually biting October wind howled through the near leaf-bare Virginia trees. The northern gusts blew the branches to and fro while the ancient trees fought back against them. The thin upper branches dug their fingers in the deepening autumn sky as if to brace themselves against a coming maelstrom. The cold rushing air seemed to mockingly boast of its victory over the life that had thrived throughout the passing vibrant summer. The dried now fallen leaves scattered along the forest floor, rustling throughout at the whims of the victorious gusts of fall.

He stood at his post in awe of nature’s spectacle. The forceful roar reminded him of the crashing waves near his distant Massachusetts home. The noisy rushing air would make vigilance all the more necessary. Because of it, he would likely see Rebels approaching before he could hear them. Not wishing the enemy to see him, he sat among a dense grouping of scrub oak, propping his musket against the sturdiest of the bunch. The wind continued to toss around the tops of the trees as if God roughly waved his hands through tall fields of grass. He could barely hear the leaves crunching under his shifting weight as he sought a comfortable spot to rest.

Taking advantage of the last few moments of sunlight, he pulled out a small book and pencil. The diary, a gift from his sister, had the familiar outline of his first home stamped into the soft leather cover. He traced the borders of Ireland with his finger, thinking of his birth home, Kathleen, and the rest of his family. He hoped to see them all soon. Glancing disapprovingly at the dull pencil tip, he took out his knife and, with short quick strokes, sharpened the point. Upon re-sheathing his knife, he brushed the shavings off his pant legs, turned to a blank page, and began to write.

"October 31, 1863. We marched only 12 miles today. The days are quickly getting cooler and shorter. We did not see any Rebs today although Andrew says he heard they are near. We don’t expect a fight but are ready if one comes." Gazing around the dimming landscape, he could think of no more to write. This last day of October proved thus far to be typical and unremarkable.

Closing the book, he slipped the small pencil into the gap between the cover and the bound edge of the pages. He placed the diary back into his sack and glanced around his temporary realm. Darkness had begun to stake its hold on the woods. "October 31st" he thought. "All Hallows Eve." A sad smile came to his face as he thought of the celebrations now well underway in Ireland. He could smell the familiar food and picture the army of carved turnips decorating the neighborhood homes. The sculpted vegetables seemed somehow vigilant, knowing of their mission to drive away the lost souls said to prowl the earth this one night. His new country thought this a child’s holiday, nothing to which a grown man should devote any attention.

With a slight sense of defiance, he felt around in his haversack and, making a careful choice, pulled out a small but adequately round turnip he had saved for a meal. Unsheathing his knife, he carefully cut out the neck from where the leaves had grown and severed the thin taproot from underneath. Digging out and eating the inside of the hard fleshy bulb, he carefully left enough of an outer shell for his next task. Racing the fleeting day’s light, he finished the portions he would eat and began carving a small sufficiently sinister looking face. After some time and careful struggle with the solid bulbous root, he finished.

Setting the hollowed bulb on the cool damp ground, hidden behind the large tree against which he sat, he fished out of his sack the small remains of a candle. Trimming the wick to limit its brightness, he placed it with nostalgic reverence inside. Once lit, the lantern along with the carpet of leaves, twisted roots, and the chill air completed the picture. He sat against the back of his tree with his new companion and listened to the night.

After a time, with the air growing still, he heard the sound of leaves under foot. Quickly looking to his small sentinel, he snuffed out the tiny candle, feeling slightly foolish for providing a beacon to his location. He caught a slight whiff of the smoke that he could not see in the near complete darkness. Feeling for his musket, he straightened his back against the tree and listened. In a few moments, he heard it again, the sound of a step or two. He needed his visitor to make a few more sounds to be sure of his approximate location.

He reached for his musket and as quietly as he could, loaded one ball. Another crunch came from the darkness, this time in his front right. "So there could be two", he thought trying to take control of his rising anxiety. "Do the others hear them?" he wondered. Peaking around his tree, looking between two smaller trunks, he peered into the enveloping darkness hoping to glimpse his visitor. As the night’s drifting clouds unveiled the half autumn moon, he began to discern the faint outlines of the trees to his front. Still seated, placing his rifle aside, he waited.

With his back to the tree, the next sound seemed to come from in front of him. "What’s this about?" he questioned silently, feeling his heart beat faster. No one had passed him. Of that, he felt certain. The breeze that had earlier taken its rest, again awoke stirring the leaves on the ground and rustling those still clinging above. A frigid chill possessed the air. He shivered somewhat but paid little attention. His eyes strained to see through the chill darkness, casting about as he turned his head, desperately trying to make out some form or shape.

"There!" The word shouted in his mind. "I see him." He stared at a figure, not too far from him, standing between some trees only about 20 yards in his front. He wanted to call out, command him to halt, ask for the counter sign, but others may be close. To be safe, he would wait.

Several seconds passed, then a minute, then two. His visitor remained silent and unmoving. He thought of reaching for his musket but opted instead for silence. Surely, the bleak darkness hid him from sight. Finally, the figure moved. Starting slowly at first, he seemed to glide among the trees. His heart pounded harder. His eyes widened as he realized that now, he heard no footsteps. Not a sound came from the figure as it approached. As his eyes focused, he could see it moving towards his right. "The others will see him," he thought.

The figured passed by, about 15 feet away, without the slightest hint that he was there except for the outline of his form. He could make out none of the man’s features, neither his face nor his uniform. Strangest of all, he carried no musket. Looking back to where the figure had come, he saw another man, closer, and moving. Peering intently into the blackness, he noticed another faint form with him. They both moved, silently, closer than the other to where he sat against his tree. Telling himself he would demand they halt once they passed, he leaned back, breathing faster through his mouth, chest expanding, trying to stay quiet. Glancing to his left, he saw two more, closer still. His heart pounded so that he thought it would surely give him away. He feared the whole woodland could hear him. He tried to control his breathing. "What is this?" he demanded silently. Looking again he saw more, many more, coming towards their lines, silently all, and without muskets. He could not count them now, nor would he. Panic gripped him as he tried to make sense of figures gliding faster through the night making not a sound. He closed his eyes and, with his free hand, rubbed hard.

Upon opening his eyes, he recoiled back hard against the tree, rigid with fright. A man, no, something else, stood just a few feet in his front glaring at him. The menacing figure exuded a dark unmistakable hatred. Paralyzed, he sat motionless as it slowly yet deliberately reached out to him with both hands and, like a vise, gripped his head in a smothering grasp. He swung feebly at the figure, screamed aloud, but it did not move. Fear raced through him, consumed him, saturated every corner of his soul. He wanted to scream again but could not speak. He wanted to run but could not move. The powerful figure held him, seemed to blend with him, keeping him in place. Fear, anger, and hatred coursed through him as if thousands of tortured souls demanded the use of his body, his voice to wail their unremitting torment. Despite the pulsating vitriolic wrath, he sensed in the figure something else, something feeding the anger. He felt a deep undercurrent of crushing unrelenting sorrow.

Hosts of these figures now filled the dark woods, gliding faster, almost frantically, as if they feared not reaching their sinister destinations in time. None noticed him except his singular malicious tormentor. He gazed up at him and to his horror, saw the moon behind him, realizing he could see it through him. A volcanic rage possessed him, coursing from the figure through him. It gripped harder and leaned in, bringing its head to within inches. He could smell the foul wretched breath, the corrupt stench of death from so many battlefields and soldiers graves. The hideous, sulfurous smell threatened to consume him as its malevolence violated his very being. Yet he could feel them all, the countless souls in agonizing pain.

A voice, no thousands of voices screamed inside his head, unearthly shrieks that he seemed able to see, taste, and smell. The vile chorus howled in searing agony, the frenzied cacophony growing louder and louder still. Able to move his arms, he grabbed his head, tried to crush it between his palms, but the voices raged. He thrashed frantically in the air, yet the screaming grew. Able to speak he added his voice to the symphony of pain, flailing about in the darkness, begging it to stop. His hand hit against something at his side. Instinctively, desperately, he seized it and hurled it at the figure.

Like the sudden rush of air from a room, the woods instantly went silent. Not a sound reached his ears except the rustling of a few dry leaves. A faint autumn breeze softly caressed the slumbering landscape. Slight clouds drifted across a starry night’s sky. The figures had vanished.

On trembling legs, he stood, took up his musket, and peered into the darkness. As his eyes adjusted, he saw around him only the deep empty woods. An hour passed, then two. Not a sound echoed. Anxiety rose again. This time, he feared the punishment for sleeping at picket. He remained at his post alert and awake until the early November sun rose in the east, painting the tips of the trees with a warming orange light.

He said nothing to his friends, worried they would poke fun at his dream. With the boredom of winter camp looming, he did not wish to be the butt of a season’s worth of jokes.

As he walked through the woods with his comrades returning to camp, one of them stopped and looked towards his feet. Puzzled, the soldier lightly kicked what to him looked like a hollow skinned potato. As it turned over, he saw that it was a turnip, partially smashed as if thrown violently to the ground. He walked away swearing that, on one side, it had a face.



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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Women in the Civil War

I stumbled upon a unique blog today concerning a segment of the 19th century population about whom I am embarrassed to say I know very little. The blog "Civil War Women" seems well worth the read, containing stories of a wide variety of well and not-so-well known women from that era. The author deserves a great deal of credit for the time spent to pay the respect due to the women who gave what they could and, along with the men of the time, suffered for their cause.

One of the unique heroines of the Civil War, Elizabeth Thorn lived in Gettysburg and experienced the horrors of war first hand. Her husband Peter had enlisted one year prior to the battle leaving her as the Evergreen Cemetery's sole caretaker, a position the two had shared until the 1862. Before the Battle of Gettysburg, Elizabeth had averaged about 5 burials a month. Her charge would increase dramatically when the Armies of General Robert E. Lee and General George Gordon Meade collided in the fields around her home. The human wreckage was indescribable. About 10,000 dead lay upon the newly christened battlefield.

Monument to Elizabeth Thorn in Gettysburg's Evergreen Cemetery,
holding a shovel in her right arm.

Elizabeth would work very hard to put her home back together and to bury a number of the dead. She would later state, "Well, you may know how I felt, my husband in the army, my father an aged man. Yet for all the foul air, we started in. I struck off the graves and while my father finished one, I had another one started." The soon exhausted Elizabeth sought help among her friends. None endured for long however, all leaving for their homes within days due to illness. Elizabeth and her elderly father found themselves alone facing this exhausting work. She said of her predicament, "By that time we had forty graves done. And then father and I had to dig on harder again."

Elizabeth's efforts proved truly remarkable given that, during this time, she was six to seven months pregnant. A short time later, Elizabeth Thorn gave birth to precious little "Rose Meade Thorn", named in part for the commanding general of the victorious Union Army.



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Source: Beyond the Gatehouse. Gettysburg's Evergreen Cemetery. Brian A. Kennell, Evergreen Cemetery Association, 2000

Monday, October 23, 2006

Short Story: A Personal Casualty

Leaning his head back, he sat against the base of a thickly gnarled elm away from the others in camp. The heavy roots jutting up from the cool soil seemed welcoming, as if forming a place of respite just for him. Staring blankly at nothing, he wished he could to draw strength from the stoic old tree, perhaps gaining its secrets on weathering life’s storms. Letting his head roll to the side, he somewhat involuntarily focused on the thick lines of bark, tracing them with his eyes, following the deeps grooves carved in its rough timeworn trunk. Seeing an old wound long since healed, he wondered if he would prove as resilient as this longtime tenant of the deep Virginia wilderness.

Although quite removed from the others, he remained safely within the protective line of their pickets. He was alone yet, to him, not alone enough. Tonight, he found his tent suffocating, the sides seeming to collapse in around him. The normally welcome comradery of the others now simply scratched at his pain. Images only a few hours old played in his mind, dangled in front of him by some malicious, unseen puppeteer. His struggle to slow, if not to altogether bury his thoughts, had thus far proved fruitless. Though he told himself that he knew of the inevitability of this moment, he had not anticipated the unbearable anxiety that now gripped him.

The government’s impassioned calls for men had eventually drawn him in. It seemed to him that the whole town had signed up. If not everyone, then at least most of those with whom he had spent his childhood had committed to fight. Sure, he shared their sense of the Union’s importance. He shared their patriotism. After all, he loved the land of his family’s birth. However, unlike the others who dreamed of adventure and glory, he dreaded what enlisting would eventually mean, what fighting would require of him. He had naively thought that he could anticipate and thus prepare for the trials of battle and that he could cope. He always considered himself an insightful thinker. But he could not have predicted the unexpected intensity of this painfully intolerable burden.

Although only a few hours had passed, it seemed lifetimes ago that his regiment settled in for the approaching spring night, cooking over a sprinkling of fires while talking of the likely events to come. Having spent the entirety of his short army career guarding the Capitol, he had wondered how he might face his first test in the field.

He had pictured orderly lines of battle, led by their Colonel as commanded by their Generals. The army would march, move, stand, and fight as a disciplined unit, advance as needed, and withdraw when compelled. They would follow their officer’s leads and force an end to this secessionist madness. Life could then continue as it had.

This idyllic fantasy surrendered to a grim reality when the men camped to their right came crashing through their ranks in a perfect unexplained panic. Something had gone terribly wrong. Understanding immediately what this portended, their experienced Colonel, in his thick German accent, ordered the men to form ranks, shift to the right, load, and fire. Despite his foreign tongue, his bearing commanded respect. They instantly understood and quickly obeyed. The enemy was almost upon them. This proved however, their last attempt at organized movement that day. Their gallant Colonel, leading his men from in front, fell to the ground the first casualty of the sudden conflict. Others began to fall as minie balls swarmed like hornets in the breezy evening air. After some fretful uncertainty, the men broke in harried unmilitary disarray. A few fired first. Most simply ran.

Although he had initially looked to his right and left to see who might stand with him, he too ran. Dense shrubs and forest debris proved no obstacle in his quest for safer ground. Running with his still loaded musket, a voice inside called him to remember his duty and fight honorably. Crashing through the brush running to save his life, he could hear the Rebels close behind him letting loose their spine chilling demonic screams. Jumping into a slight depression, he turned to gage his distance from his gray clad pursuers. A particularly energetic Johnny raced towards him, some yards in front of even their color bearer. Perhaps now had not been a good time to stop. As the Johnny began to point his musket towards him, instinctively, and for the first time, he lowered his own rifle, aimed at the man in gray, and fired.

As if appalled by this sudden violation, time seemed to suspend its energies on this now execrably christened field. All motion seemed to slow. His southern pursuer stopped suddenly, a look of shocked disbelief and resigned comprehension painfully etched in his young face. His expression bespoke no anger, no resentment, no accusation, just stunned disbelief quickly displaced by a longing, silent plea for help. The eyes of this man, startlingly more human than any into which he had looked before, fell as the gray clad soldier’s body hit the unforgiving ground. The growing stain on his loose cotton shirt spoke of this man’s inevitable fate. Staring transfixed at the man in mystified horror, some sense of self-preservation shocked him back into awareness, reminding him of the present approaching danger. With the now enraged Rebels closing quickly, he threw his musket aside and, lightened of its burden, once again fled.

Time rejoined the drama, seeming to push him on his way as if to make up for its delinquencies of the past few seconds. Filled with the energy of near frightened hysteria, he easily outpaced his yelling pursuers. Branches, twigs, and undergrowth crunched under the steady pounding of his quickly moving feet, blending with the crackling sounds of musketry and the booming thundering accompaniment of dueling artillery. After a time and with perhaps a mile of ground behind him, he joined the reformed blue lines and night mercifully closed on the carnage. Now, he sat near camp, tormented by the lingering images of this terrible day.

He had never killed a man, nor had he seen one die. He could only think of the Johnny as a man, not as a Reb, a traitor, or the enemy. Alone on the cold dead ground, his victim was only a man like him, minus the unique gift of the precious breath of life. His soul ached with the pain that his victim no longer felt. He thought that perhaps an angry God had taken from him the serenity that perhaps both men held earlier today. The admonishment “Thou Shalt Not Kill” broke repeatedly and forcefully into his tortured thoughts. “He would have surely killed me or at least tried,” he feebly argued in defense. He rubbed his rough dirty hands hard over his suddenly older face, trying to erase the pain. He could not bear this. “I did my duty!” his inner voice defiantly shouted in response to the agony that savaged his conscience. “I did what I had to do!”

Perhaps with time he might convince himself that he had violated no moral laws. Perhaps with time, the pain would subside. But for now, although far from that place, the imploring pleading eyes of that man remained with him, staring back at him. He could still see his eyes and, to his horror, could almost see through them. He envisioned the man’s family, perhaps the children who would never again run to him, and the wife he would never hold. He saw his parents, children, and friends, wracked with an intense, bitter grief over a loss they could do nothing to undo, a loss caused by his hand.

The evening winds gently swayed the treetops and, as if to provide a merciful distraction, the old elm dropped a few twigs to the ground nearby. Snatching one within reach, he mindlessly began peeling the bark in short strips. He thought of his father, a hard working farmer who had taught him the craft of slaughtering and butchering livestock. “This is hard for me Papa,” he recalled saying to his father, trying to hold back the tears after he had reluctantly killed his first lamb. The older man’s words rang clearly in his ears, pushing from the fore the eyes which threatened to consume him. “Son, when this becomes easy, you need to stop and look at who you’ve become.”

It was not cold, yet he tossed aside his twig and pulled his blanket tightly around him, wishing for the innocence of the safer childhood he mournfully recalled and for his father’s practical strength. He stared into the darkness, searching for the eyes that he could no longer see, fearing that he would see them again and also that he might not. “What had he become?” he wondered. “What would he do tomorrow?”

Although he laid down a mile away, he felt somehow that he shared the same ground as that where his personal casualty now rested. Though he yet lived, had emerged from the fight physically unscathed, he wondered how he would survive what he had done. “This is what this is all about,” he thought, to a degree chastising himself. “To engage in war you must kill, one person at a time. No matter how the illustrated papers say it, announcing the hundreds or thousands of dead, it happens with one man killing one other, one at a time.”

Wrapped in his blanket, he tossed about on the rough ground as if wrestling with some unseen foe. His mind raced through a haze of images from both this day and his past. The lessons of his parents, his schooling, and his church all danced furiously, colliding violently with today’s incongruous events. For a while, the directionless mental conflagration continued. Then suddenly, the storm passed. His mind cleared. He knew that he could kill no more. That night, he slipped quietly through the picket line, leaving the trappings of war behind, and walked into the darkness away from someone he could not become. As he traveled through the night-shrouded woodland, he gazed upward through the swaying trees towards the stars above and offered an earnest quiet prayer for the man whose life he had taken, asking for peace for them both and for us all.



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